Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Greetings from Athens, Greece! Terry and I, along with Paul and Lisa Sinclair, are here this week to teach and train Iranian Christians and to work with the refugee population. We arrived late Saturday night and after a day of rest, we began our weeklong meetings with 25 or so Iranians, along with Afghan refugees who have had to flee their homeland due to extremist violence.
Paul and I have been teaching and training the Iranian Christians in one location, while Terry and Lisa are meeting in a separate location with the Afghanis who arrive each morning from nearby refugee camps. In the evening the four of us gather to review the days’ events, adjust our teachings and share the amazing stories we are hearing from these people.
Our theme this week has been the “Fatherhood of God.” We are spending the whole week exploring the story Jesus told of the lost sons in Luke 15:11-32. Today the whole morning was devoted to just observing the details of the story. Talk about a fascinating experience!! Imagine the electricity in the room as men and women brought forth one cultural distinctive after another from the text, enlightening all of us because of their unique Middle Eastern background. I saw a Middle Eastern story through Middle Eastern eyes today. I’ll never forget the incredible experience!
Yesterday Lisa taught on Grief, Loss and Trauma. These men and women have been exiled from their homelands. The extent of pain and loss they have suffered could fill volumes! For instance, today over lunch a young Iranian told me he was a political newspaper columnist in Tehran. When the government learned of his Christian leanings, they forcibly drove him from the country and declared him to be dead. Today he lives in Athens and his entire family remains in Iran. The last time he spoke to a member of his family was three years ago.
A team from 222 Ministries gave a report last night about the ministry among the Syrian refugees on the Turkish border. Christians from numerous European countries, in spite of personal danger have descended on these areas offering humanitarian aid and hope. There were reports of believers going from one tent to another in refugee camps openly sharing the Good News of Jesus with thousands!
Some of these people eventually return to their homelands after the hostilities cease. Pray these seeds of the Gospel that have been sown will spread and bear fruit. It is not unlike a similar situation in the first century where “a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered…” (Acts 8:1). May the scattering we are witnessing in our time result in a great harvest for Christ!
Please pray for us during these days. We know that God is using our lives and these teachings for His people. The days are long, the stories are hard, the cultural barriers are wide, but the hunger is palpable. Pray that God would make us all adequate for this work, this time and these people.